Category: medicine

Ancient Medicine and the Modern Physician


Asclepius_Rhodes_wipad.jpgThe classics department in collaboration with the Georgia Regents University/UGA Medical Partnership, will host a two-day symposium designed to find relevant historical practices that are useful to modern-day physicians:

Events will be held March 23-24 on both the UGA main campus and the Health Sciences Campus. Experts in ancient medicine and modern medical practices will present workshops, panel discussions and a keynote address.

"Methods of diagnosis are undergoing fundamental changes within American medical communities," said Nancy Felson, professor emerita in the classics department and one of the event organizers. "Physicians and other health care professionals now recognize that successful diagnosis is not only a matter of identifying symptoms, but rather an interpretive process involving the narrative arc of a patient's life, activities, habits, gene profile as well as the exhibited symptoms. This new and fundamental aspect of modern health care is rooted in ancient medical methods of diagnosis and patient narratives."

The symposium will begin March 23 with a 7 p.m. lecture in George Hall on the Health Sciences Campus.

Dr. Richard Panico will discuss "The Art of Medicine: It's Always Been About the Dialogue." A reception will follow his talk.

For more information, visit the classics website. Great subject for discussion, and very important to engage the himanities with the study of medicine and vice versa.

PREMED Magazine


Pre_med full.pngWe've written previously about PreMed magazine, a student organization designed to help pre-medical students at UGA achieve success in the medical field. It's a truly outstanding effort by students in the Franklin College and elsewhere on campus who already have a great deal on their plates. Covering important issues that do not stop at the undergraduate major door, their December 2013 issue is out:

This month's issue is all about health and medicine in Georgia. Our features delves into Georgia's growing physician shortage, the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership, and examining the state of medicine in Athens. Our writers explore local internships in Athens for yiu to get involved and opinions about the controversial issue of providing healthcare to undocumented immigrants.

Just as any good publication should - though not enough do - PreMed Magazine is taking on the prickly subjects in service to informing the public. Great job. Check it out.

Choosing a path to medical school


Pre-Med mag coverUGA resources abound for students with medical school hopes



Going into medicine can often be a daunting prospect for students.  However, with a medical school partnership right here in Athens, and considering the statistics concerning the physician shortage rate in the state, now is a great time to consider the medical field as a career choice.

University of Georgia students with an interest in the medical field have a broad base of resources at hand on campus and even a program, known as the Premedical Studies Program, to help guide you through the process. 

Students in the Franklin College may select the pre-med designation and work with an advisor to select a curriculum that will help prepare for medical school.  Of course, there are general recommendations—a year of non-organic chemistry, a year of organic chemistry, a year of biology and a year of physics—but advisers can also give recommendations about other ways to increase your chances of getting into medical school.

Beyond meeting with an advisor, the Premedical Studies Program website also has a great resource that can help students think about the logistics of becoming a doctor, and learn more about the process of applying to and succeeding in medical school.

Consider the follow excerpt from the Premedical Studies Program Guide:

The American Academy of Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently interviewed 171 medical school faculty members, residents, and students about the behaviors most likely to result in success in medical school and residency.

According to the survey the following ten qualities are key:

1. Taking an active role in helping to shape their own learning and knowledge acquisition
2. Self-management and coping skills
3. Effort to foster a team environment
4. Interpersonal skills and professionalism
5. Empathetic and listening skills when interacting with patients and their families
6. Technical knowledge and skill
7. Extra effort and motivation
8. Ethical judgment and integrity
9. Mentoring skills
10. Demonstrating an ability to remain calm under pressure


Still not sure if going to medical school is for you.? Don’t fret. Beyond the classroom and plethora of resources via advisors with the Premedical Studies Program, another good resource for exploring this career direction is a UGA publication called PreMed Magazine.

Created by students at UGA the publication aims to inform students about preparing for medical school, but also has information for students who are considering a science-based career or major at UGA. 

According to the website:         

PreMed Magazine is a student organization that aims to help pre-medical students at The University of Georgia achieve success in the medical field. As a part of PreMed Magazine, members will have the opportunity to refine their writing and editorial skills, meet prominent people within the fields of medicine and journalism, learn strategies of successful pre-medical students, and develop the skills needed to achieve their goals. This organization is open for students of all majors and concentrations

A new edition was released earlier this week. In it, authors take on the myths of pseudoscience, the many myths surrounding a career in medicine and even the myths of choosing a science-based major here at UGA. 

Orientation meetings for students with an interest in medicine as a career are held each semester where students can get advice about enhancing your chances of getting into medical school, as well as connect with a network of other students and professionals with similar interests. The next session will be held on reading day, December 4, 2013.

If you’ve got an interest in science or medicine, the resources are here to further spark that interest. Reach out, attend meetings and get advice from those who know best.  The University of Georgia has the resources you need to make the right career choice.


Cell biology researchers discover new treatment


Toxoplasma_gondii.jpgResearchers in the department of cellular biology have discovered that a combination of two commonly prescribed drugs used to treat high cholesterol and osteoporosis may serve as the foundation of a new treatment for toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii.

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite capable of infecting nearly all warm-blooded animals. While healthy human adults usually suffer no lasting ill effects from infection, it can be harmful or fatal to unborn fetuses or those with weakened immune systems.

"For many years, therapies for toxoplasmosis have focused on drugs that target only the parasite," said Silvia Moreno, senior author of the article and professor of cellular biology in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "But in this paper, we show how we can hit the parasite with two drugs simultaneously, one that affects body chemistry in the host and one that affects the parasite."

The UGA researchers discovered that a combination of the cholesterol lowering drug atorvastatin and osteoporosis medication zoledronic acid, both more commonly known by their respective trade names, Lipitor and Zometa, produce changes in the mammalian host and in the parasite that ultimately block parasite replication and spread of the infection.

Researchers publish new method for glycan synthesis


Geert-Jan-Boons in the labResearchers at the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center announced a new methodology with broad implications for human health. A research team led by Geert-Jan Boons, Franklin Professor in the department of chemistry, recently published on the first method for synthesizing asymmetrical N-glycans:

According to the study, published in the journal Science on July 25, the approach could lead to a better understanding of how viruses and bacteria enter cells and development of therapies to fight them.

"Eventually, if we know better which glycans are present on the cell surface of healthy and disease cells, we can develop better therapies to fight cancer, influenza and many other diseases," said Geert-Jan Boons, UGA Distinguished Professor in Biochemical Sciences and the study's lead author.

Glycans are complex structures that accompany every living cell and are an essential but difficult to understand class of biopolymer. All cells are decorated with glycans, which range from those that help with cell development and immune responses to the ones involved in cancer metastasis.Glycan sequences determine biological properties of may proteins. They are sugar molecules that form simple chains or complex branching structures and are connected to nearly every protein on the surface of all living cells. Many pathogens get into cells by binding to the glycans on the cell surface-using them like a hook for cell entry and infection.

"Glycans attached to the proteins found on cell surfaces mediate numerous biological process, but determining the specific function of individual glycans has been difficult because the bulk of these sugar chains are asymmetrical, making them difficult to synthesize in the lab," said Pamela Marino of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the research.

Institutionally speaking, when you put all of the research components together - facilities, teams of extraordinarily talented researchers and great laboratory support - this is what can be achieved. The obvious emphasis there, because nothing is, of course, inevitable. It takes years of steady progress, failure and recommitted determination to get to the point demonstrated by Boons and his colleagues. And often mere congratulations on substantial findings and discoveries like these can seem like an understatement. But congratulate them we do, and these accomplishments do so much, far beyond the recognition they richly deserve. Additional kudos to the NIH and other federal funding agencies. The private sector is simply not the place where these breakthroughs will happen, and so this work also represents the academy at its best. And in that, we can all take pride.

Image of Boons in the lab courtesy of UGA photo services.

Chemistry researchers develop synthetic version of the 'good cholesterol'


Dar and marrache in the lab In thier quest to develop nanosensors for early detection of plaque build-up in the arteries, researchers from the department of chemistry have hit upon an even bigger advancement:

Early detection of cellular components in the plaque that rupture and block arteries have long been held as potentially effective detection for heart diseases and their link to atherosclerosis.

A new study by University of Georgia researchers in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of chemistry, published online May 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documents a technological breakthrough: Synthetic high density lipoprotein nanoparticles. A completely biodegradable synthetic version of the so-called good cholesterol, the nanoparticles represent a potential new detection and therapy regimen for atherosclerosis.

In the process of developing a nanoparticle sensor to detect unstable cellular components in atherosclerotic lesions, study coauthors assistant professor Shanta Dhar and graduate student Sean Marrache constructed the lipoprotein nanoparticle in Dhar's NanoTherapeutics Research Laboratory. In bench-scale animal trials, the synthetic HDL-mimicking nanoparticle showed significant reductions in total cholesterol and triglycerides.

"In creating all the processes for the nanoparticle to mimic the natural HDL and carry a signaling output, we were able to demonstrate excellent biocompatibility," Dhar said. "If we simply leave out the sensor, we have a very promising therapy for triglyceride reduction in the bloodstream."

Huge congratulations to Dhar and Marrache for this work. A new manufacturing process for completely synthetic HDL has very wide implications for human health, but the advances seen in Nanomedicine in just the last decade alone should help grow the support for this kind of research (and instruction) at universities around the world. That's how we get advances like this.

Image: Shanta Dhar, right, and Sean Marrache work in Dhar's NanoTherapeutics Research Laboratory at UGA, courtesy of UGA photographic services.

Cell-signaling one key to fighting the flu



University of Georgia scientists have utilized a well-known cell-signaling protein in fighting influenza and the results have been promising:

Kimberly Klonowski, assistant professor of cellular biology in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and her colleagues found that administering a cell-signaling protein known as IL-15 to mice infected with influenza reduces their peak viral load by nearly three times.

"We gave the IL-15 intranasally and found that it enhanced the movement of the immune system's natural killer cells and CD8 T cells into the lung airways," said Klonowski, whose findings were recently published in the journal PLoS ONE. "As a result, the animals that received it cleared the virus faster than the control group."

In some ways this new work reflects the thinking behind trends in the greater population toward building up the immune system as a way of fighting off infections. Further defining the most effective components of the immune system builds a better, more sustainable premise for improved health care, and improved health, for more people. Congratulations to Dr. Klonowski and her colleagues.

Image: 2ILA Interleukin 1 Alpha protein, licensed under Creative Commons.


Nanoparticles and magnetic current used to kill cancer cells


Ge-catalyzed ZnO nanowires forest-1.jpg

Franklin College researchers have used nanoparticles and alternating magnetic current to kill cancer cells in mice without harming healthy cells:

The findings, published recently in the journal Theranostics, mark the first time to the researchers' knowledge this cancer type has been treated using magnetic iron oxide nanoparticle-induced hyperthermia, or above-normal body temperatures, in laboratory mice.

"We show that we can use a small concentration of nanoparticles to kill the cancer cells," said Qun Zhao, lead author and assistant professor of physics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Researchers found that the treatment easily destroyed the cells of cancerous tumors that were composed entirely of a type of tissue that covers the surface of a body, which is also known as epithelium.

Scientific Illustration exhibition



The Lamar Dodd School of Art is home to a number of popular majors and programs within the Franklin College, where cross-disciplinary collaboration is not only encouraged but is a fundamental component to student achievement and faculty effectiveness. One of the those is the science and medical illustration area. Chaired by art professor Gene Wright, the program has its 20th annual exhibition this week.

The exhibition features work from the scientific illustration program and the Georgia Health Sciences University graduate program in medical illustration. A reception and awards ceremony will be held Feb. 29 from 6-8:30 p.m. The reception is free; and the public is invited.